The Value of Municipal Security Solutions

From design challenges to what to do with all that video, a primer on municipal surveillance


A municipal surveillance solution designed to protect the people property and assets in an urban environment can play an integral role in the revitalization and well-being of a city, its citizens and its economy. To derive maximum ROI, a municipal security solution must contain certain crucial features including network-intelligent video distribution, resilient system design, industry-leading wireless technology, and an open, IT-friendly architecture.

These features will help law enforcement personnel secure diverse urban environments ranging from city blocks and parks to monuments and parking structures. A comprehensive networked video solution transforms video into value, delivering information that the security and law enforcement community can use for deterring crime and promoting a safe environment for people and commerce.

Identifying Risks Before They Escalate

Modern, networked video solutions provide an excellent platform for the deployment of sophisticated analytics technologies in municipal security settings that can automatically identify suspicious or criminal behaviors before they escalate. Once detected, these security breaches trigger alerts and deliver the most critical and timely information to law enforcement personnel so immediate action can be taken. Video analytics technologies can reduce the number of resources required to monitor and patrol urban environments while promoting strict adherence to local laws and community charters.

In order to reap the maximum benefit from video analytics, municipal surveillance solutions should include a flexible rules engine that allows law enforcement to define sensitive areas and determine what objects or movements constitute an illegal or undesirable behavior.

Powerful video analytics, combined with a sophisticated rules engine, are capable of differentiating between people and inanimate objects, and initiating actions based on appropriate parameters of movement within locations that have been identified as high risk. In addition, analytics facilitate the establishment of virtual perimeters around street corners, city blocks or back alleys that are known for criminal activity. Virtual perimeters are a series of tripwires or boundaries that users define, using a point-and-click interface, within various camera views. When a virtual boundary is crossed, an alert is generated and distributed according the rules defined by security personnel.

For example, a virtual perimeter can be established in a camera view that monitors a parking structure where multiple vehicle thefts have occurred. The virtual perimeters could be established at the on-foot entrance to the structure, as well and where the vehicles exit the facility. If foot traffic is detected within these perimeters between the hours of midnight and 7 a.m., an alert would be sent to a monitoring station, enabling security personnel to take appropriate action. If a theft occurs, the vehicle could be tracked as it exits the facility and a patrol car could be dispatched to the location to intercept the criminal. This actionable intelligence can help reduce the escalation of crime and also serve as evidence in the pending criminal case. This example illustrates how analytics can increase the efficiency of existing law enforcement resources, while facilitating new levels of crime prevention in a specific area.

Along with movement, a municipal surveillance solution must be capable of detecting people, objects or vehicles that remain in or near sensitive areas in excess of a certain length of time. This includes detecting loitering subjects as well as those who are engaging in criminal or anti-social behavior.

Reacting Effectively to an Emergency

Incidents like the London Underground bombings show us that suspicious behavior in an urban environment does not always precede a security breach, making it hard to eliminate all risks. Video imagery of the four men in backpacks entering London's subway did not trigger any visual alarms within their municipal surveillance system. So, when a security breach in a municipal setting occurs, a timely and well orchestrated response can mean the difference between a contained incident and a broader problem.